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MMA rankings: Junior Dos Santos moves up in the heavweight division

MMA rankings: Junior Dos Santos moves up in the heavweight division
Junior Dos Santos (Pat Sullivan / Associated Press)

The Times’ MMA rankings for March, as put together by Todd Martin:

Heavyweight

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1. Daniel Cormier

2. Stipe Miocic

3. Francis Ngannou

4. Junior Dos Santos

5. Curtis Blaydes

6. Derrick Lewis

7. Alexander Volkov

8. Alistair Overeem

9. Cain Velasquez

10. Ryan Bader

With his third straight win, Junior Dos Santos jumps up the rankings and finds himself back in the title picture. Dos Santos punished Derrick Lewis with strikes and finished him in the second. At 35, Dos Santos looks like he still has plenty left in the tank. Blagoy Ivanov won a competitive decision over Ben Rothwell in Kansas and the 17-2 Bulgarian is a tough challenge for anyone in the division.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Ryan Bader

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3. Alexander Gustafsson

4. Thiago Santos

5. Dominick Reyes

6. Corey Anderson

7. Ilir Latifi

8. Glover Teixeira

9. Johnny Walker

10. Anthony Smith

Jon Jones retained his UFC light heavyweight title without too much difficulty, dominating Anthony Smith over the course of five rounds. Luckily for the division, some new challengers are finally emerging. Bruising Thiago Santos picked up his seventh knockout win in nine fights over Jan Blachowicz and could be next in line. Johnny Walker was spectacular again as he knocked out Misha Cirkunov with a flying knee to win his ninth straight. Meanwhile, Dominick Reyes didn’t pick up as many style points but improved to 11-0 with a split decision win over tough Volkan Oezdemir.

Middleweight

1. Robert Whittaker

2. Yoel Romero

3. Gegard Mousasi

4. Israel Adesanya

5. Luke Rockhold

6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

7. Kelvin Gastelum

8. Chris Weidman

9. Paulo Costa

10. David Branch

With Robert Whittaker out of action, Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum will fight for a UFC interim middleweight title in Atlanta. UFC has overdone it with interim titles in recent years and this is another example. Yoel Romero and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in another top upcoming middleweight bout, a rematch of a bout Romero won but that many scored for Souza.

Welterweight

1. Kamaru Usman

2. Tyron Woodley

3. Colby Covington

4. Stephen Thompson

5. Rory MacDonald

6. Ben Askren

7. Rafael Dos Anjos

8. Douglas Lima

9. Jorge Masvidal

10. Santiago Ponzinibbio

Kamaru Usman scored the biggest win of the month and one of the biggest of the year when he dethroned longtime UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in dominant fashion. It was the sort of win that suggests Usman could hold the title for some time to come. However, there are plenty of challenges in the deep welterweight division. Colby Covington is likely next while unbeaten Ben Askren established himself as a factor with a win over Robbie Lawler. Jorge Masvidal reentered the top ten with a brutal knockout of Darren Till while surging fighters like Leon Edwards and Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos picked up wins but are still outside the top 10.

Lightweight

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov

2. Tony Ferguson

3. Conor McGregor

4. Dustin Poirier

5. Eddie Alvarez

6. Justin Gaethje

7. Al Iaquinta

8. Kevin Lee

9. Edson Barboza

10. Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler will defend his Bellator lightweight title next against Bellator featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in May. Champion vs. champion bouts have become quite popular in recent years. Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje has all the makings of a war in Philadelphia as both men look to earn a title shot.

Featherweight

1. Max Holloway

2. Brian Ortega

3. Jose Aldo

4. Frankie Edgar

5. Alexander Volkanovski

6. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire

7. Zabit Magomedsharipov

8. Mirsad Bektic

9. Chad Mendes

10. Renato Moicano

Zabit Magomedsharipov moves up a spot after a unanimous decision win over the always game Jeremy Stephens. Magomedsharipov faded in the third round so that may be a cause for concern as he moves into longer fights at the main event level.

Bantamweight

1. T.J. Dillashaw

2. Marlon Moraes

3. Raphael Assuncao

4. Aljamain Sterling

5. Jimmie Rivera

6. John Lineker

7. Cody Stamann

8. Pedro Munhoz

9. Cody Garbrandt

10. Kyoji Horiguchi

Former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt falls down the rankings following his third straight knockout loss, this time to Pedro Munhoz. Garbrandt was again not careful enough with his offense and found himself countered and finished. Petr Yan won his fourth straight in the UFC against John Dodson and has the makings of a contender.

Women’s Bantamweight

1. Amanda Nunes

2. Ketlen Vieira

3. Aspen Ladd

4. Germaine de Randamie

5. Sarah Kaufman

6. Tonya Evinger

7. Raquel Pennington

8. Yana Kunitskaya

9. Marion Reneau

10. Sara McMann

Yana Kunitskaya scored a unanimous decision win over Marion Reneau in the most consequential women’s 135-pound bout of the month. Few of the top fighters have scheduled upcoming bouts; one exception is Aspen Ladd who will welcome Sijara Eubanks to the bantamweight division.

Flyweight

1. Henry Cejudo

2. Demetrious Johnson

3. Joseph Benavidez

4. Jussier Formiga

5. Ray Borg

6. Deiveson Figueiredo

7. Alexandre Pantoja

8. Wilson Reis

9. Brandon Moreno

10. John Moraga

Demetrious Johnson will make his debut for One Championship at historic Ryogoku Sumo Hall as part of a flyweight tournament where he will be the prohibitive favorite.

Women’s Flyweight

1. Valentina Shevchenko

2. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

3. Nicco Montano

4. Jessica Eye

5. Katlyn Chookagian

6. Alexis Davis

7. Joanne Calderwood

8. Andrea Lee

9. Liz Carmouche

10. Jennifer Maia

Liz Carmouche continues to gain momentum as she has now won four of five following a unanimous decision win over Lucie Pudilova. Jessica Eye will receive the next shot at UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. Eye strung together three wins at just the right time with the division sorting itself out.

Women’s Strawweight

1. Rose Namajunas

2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

3. Jessica Andrade

4. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

5. Tatiana Suarez

6. Nina Ansaroff

7. Claudia Gadelha

8. Livia Renata Souza

9. Weili Zhang

10. Carla Esparza

Weili Zhang breaks into the top ten after besting Tecia Torres by decision. It wasn’t as emphatic as Zhang surely would have liked but Zhang got by the toughest opponent of her career. Zhang is probably China’s best hope for a future MMA champion.

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